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‘Extortion, skyrocketing income, ties to cattle kingpin’ — CBI charge sheet against TMC’s Mondal

Anubrata Mondal was ‘extorting money using political clout’ & entered into ‘criminal conspiracy’ with kingpin of cattle smuggling racket. About Rs 18 cr kept in fixed deposits.

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Kolkata: Call records showing his bodyguard collected money from a cattle smuggling ‘kingpin’, Rs 18 crore in fixed deposits and two rice mills brought using proceeds of the alleged crime — these are among the charges the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) mentions in its charge sheet against Trinamool Congress (TMC) strongman Anubrata Mondal.

Accusing Mondal of blatant use of political clout to conceal his wealth, the CBI further alleges that he not only opened and operated bank accounts in the name of his domestic workers but also used their credentials to purchase high-end vehicles for personal use, and even bought a petrol pump.

In West Bengal, Mondal needs no introduction. A mere district president of the ruling TMC, he wields immense sway in Birbhum and adjoining districts without ever having fought a single election.

Mondal was arrested by the CBI from his residence in Bolpur on 11 August and has since been in jail over his alleged role in cross-border cattle smuggling for which the federal agency held its ‘kingpin’ Md. Enamul Haque in 2020.

In its 35-page charge sheet against Mondal — which ThePrint has accessed — the CBI, besides listing properties bought by him and his daughter Sukanya, alleges that the proceeds from cattle smuggling were routed through ‘shell companies’ handled by Mondal’s CA Manish Kothari to downplay the exponential rise in their wealth.

The agency relies on Mondal’s call records and that of his bodyguard Sehegal Hossain alias ‘Cycle’ and Haque, apart from bank accounts operating in the name of the TMC leader’s close aides, to try to establish a money trail involving the three men who are now behind bars for their alleged involvement in the racket which was smuggling cattle to Bangladesh.

In its charge sheet filed before a special CBI court in Asansol in August, the CBI invoked Sections 109 (abetment), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code against Mondal.

He was also been booked under Sections 7 (demand of illegal gratification), 9 (obtaining gratification by exercise of personal influence over public servant), 11 (public servant obtaining valuable thing without consideration), 12 (abetting offence punishable under section 7 or 11), 13 (2) (criminal misconduct by public servant), 13 (1)(d) (disproportionate assets) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

However, Mondal’s lawyer Anirban Guha Thakurta maintains that the CBI failed to establish any link between his client and cross-border cattle smugglers. “Since you have seen the charge sheet, the CBI hasn’t been able to give any evidence against Anubrata Mondal. He is wealthy and that is not a crime. The only thing the CBI has shown are call record details where his bodyguard Sehegal has called Enamul Haque,” he told ThePrint.

Thakurta added that Mondal’s legal team will “use this ground to fight for bail” when his case comes up for hearing on 11 November.

Also Read: Bengal assembly passes law making CM chancellor of universities. ‘Politicising post’, says BJP

‘Extortion, criminal conspiracy’

In its charge sheet, the CBI says Mondal wields “considerable influence over the state administration, placed in the higher ladder of the hierarchy of the ruling party [TMC]”, and that he was “extorting money from different entities to accommodate their business”.

The CBI also claims Mondal was involved in a criminal conspiracy and was “providing support and protection to Enamul Haque” to ensure “smooth procurement and transportation of cattle towards the international Indo-Bangladesh border through Birbhum and Murshidabad districts”.

According to the agency, Mondal’s bodyguard Sehegal Hossain alias ‘Cycle’ — a constable in the West Bengal Police — was allegedly collecting monthly commission on his behalf. Citing call records of the three men, the CBI says the bodyguard’s phone was used to contact Haque multiple times.

“Accused Anubrata Mondal, by virtue of political as well as administrative influence, provided support and protection to Md. Enamul Haque in lieu of acceptance of monthly commission,” says the CBI.

Further, the agency claims Mondal “influenced” the owner of a cattle fair in Birbhum district to issue backdated sale receipts in favour of Haque back in 2018. “The back-dated bills were created to justify that the cattle were sold in the cattle fair and not smuggled,” reads the charge sheet.

‘Cars, petrol pump bought in name of domestic help’

Moreover, the CBI claims Mondal misused the documents of his domestic workers to conceal the wealth he amassed by aiding cross-border cattle smuggling.

“Investigation revealed that Mondal with some ulterior motive used to exploit his domestic helps by opening [bank] accounts in their names and taking signed cheque and withdrawal slips and also made cash deposits in those accounts earned from illegal cattle smuggling business through some fictitious entities. He used to purchase costly vehicles for his own use in the name of these domestic helps,” says the charge sheet.

The CBI also says one of Mondal’s domestic aides, Bidyut Baran Gayen, “purchased different properties in his name from the illegal income earned by Anubrata through illegal cattle smuggling”.

The probe agency also mentions one such bank account allegedly opened and operated by Mondal and his bodyguard in the name of Biswajyoti Banerjee, one of the TMC strongman’s domestic workers.

“Huge cash deposits were made and withdrawn from the said Indian Bank account without the knowledge of Banerjee. Application for one petrol pump in the name of Bhole Bam Service Station which required a deposit of Rs 26.82 lakh was signed by Banerjee and the amount was forwarded from the said account,” the CBI says.

‘Rs 18 crore in FDs, surge in income’

The probe agency said its investigation has led it to believe that between 2014 and 2018, Mondal took over two rice mills and several properties in and around Bolpur in Birbhum and Kolkata, valued at several crores, in his name and that of his family members using proceeds of cattle smuggling.

“Accused Anubrata Mondal has also invested around Rs 18 crore in fixed deposits with money received from accused Enamul Haque,” the CBI alleges.

Attaching income tax returns of the TMC leader and his daughter in the charge sheet, the CBI says Mondal had a “gross total income of Rs 5,33,037 during the financial year 2012-13 which skyrocketed and reached Rs 1,01,03,664 during the financial year 2020-21”.

His daughter Sukanya, a primary school teacher, had reported her income as “Rs 3,09,399 during 2012-13 which went up to Rs 1,44,94,090 during 2020-21”.

“In the course of the investigation conducted so far, several bank accounts in the name of Anubrata Mondal and his daughter Sukanya maintained at SBI, Bank of India, Axis Bank and Indian Bank have been identified. In the subsequent years, their income reached astronomical numbers, as projected by them in their l-T returns,” asserts the CBI.

Sukanya appeared before the Enforcement Directorate at its headquarters in New Delhi Wednesday and Thursday for questioning in connection with a separate probe into cross-border cattle smuggling.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

Also Read: RTI, cheating, forgery — HC probe details 609 ‘illegal’ recruitments of staff in Bengal schools


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